Real World Casino Goes Cyber

11 November 1998

In a solid endorsement of the future for online gambling, the Queensland Australia-based real world casino operator, Jupiters Limited, announced it had acquired the sports betting business, Centrebet, based in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia.

Here are the best bits from the press release, namblers.

"Centrebet is one of the largest sports betting operations in Australia and operates under licence from the Northern Territory Racing Commission. In fiscal 1998, Centrebet generated approximately $3.2 million of operating revenues, after paying customer winnings. While Centrebet's revenue at present is relatively minor for Jupiters Limited, the potential for growth is exciting," the press release said.

"Mr. Terry Lillis, who founded and ran the company, will remain as general manager of the new Centrebet division of Jupiters Limited."

'At present, Centrebet's client base is in excess of 20,000 accounts, spanning more than 50 countries. It has a large customer base with Australian clients from all states and territories as well as an offshore growth strategy which uses the internet to attract clients from Europe and other markets," Mr. Lillis said (in the press release, that is).

"Centrebet received the first telephone sports betting licence in Australia and commenced operation in 1992. While turnover has increased steadily over the years, there has been considerable growth in the past 18 months."

"This growth can be principally attributed to the company's internet site. Each month, Centrebet is recruiting on average several hundred new clients," Mr. Lillis said.

"Jupiters Limited managing director, Mr. Richard Barnes, said the acquisition will serve to strengthen the company's position in the gaming industry and provide a strong launch base into the fast-growing sports betting and internet gaming markets. It is also synergistic with Jupiters' existing network-based Keno game," he said (well, all right, he wrote).

"Centrebet's core business of sports betting is currently experiencing enormous growth, with betting conducted by telephone and on the internet. Last financial year, Centrebet's sports turnover increased nearly 90%," Mr. Barnes said.

The 3.2 million Australian dollar turnover (US $ around 2 million) is still small cheese in overall gambling terms in Australia represent about 18 cents per head of population in Australia who spend (lose) about $750 each a year on gambling . That represents about 0.03 percent of the gambling market so it's not a lot.

But, the Jupiters group with their string of successful casinos have deep pockets and can stay in the game for the long haul. The press release says that the telephone betting operation is now second to their Internet-based activities. If that is the case, then the internet-based share of revenue generation must have improved considerably since a story we ran about a year ago.

To my knowledge, this is the first move by a major real world casino operator into cyberspace. Since the Government of the Northern Territory is soon to approve cybercasino operations, we may well see Centrebet add a virtual roulette wheel or two.

IGN's Mr.Nambling is a gaming industry consultant and commentator with over 23 years industry experience, Glenn Barry has held senior management positions in Lottery and gaming operations around the world. His claims to fame include starting the first successful US Lotto in NewYork in 1978 and the NSW (Australia) in 1979.